Cheers, my dears!

Cheers, my dears!

THAT’S NOT MR. PICKWICK enjoying a traditional Dickensian Christmas at Dingley Dell. It’s a renowned Devonian, Sir Henry Cole in the bosom of his family on 25th of December, 1843.

“Sir Henry who?” we hear you cry. Henry was the man who invented the world’s very first Christmas card, right here, in Devon. For Henry had an inventive turn of mind and was also a patron of the arts.

He patented a stay-hot teapot, had a hand in the design of the world’s first postage stamp (the Penny Black) and was a founder of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

But that image in the centre of the card – of one of his grandchildren being given a festive sip of wine – got him into trouble with one Joseph Livesey, the founder of the teetotalism movement in Preston, Lancashire and had become something of a voice in the land.

There is no record of Livesey ever having sent Christmas cards. However he left provision in his will that at Christmas time every household in Preston should receive a free copy of his Malt Liquor Lecture, in which he maintained that “there is more food in a pennyworth of bread than in a gallon of ale”.

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This article was written by
John Fisher

Writer, author, script and sketch-writer, cartoonist, public speaker, Visitor Engagement Volunteer (National Trust) and would-be ukelele virtuoso.